Hotel fire kills 10 people, 11 injured

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A fire broke out in a small hotel in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil, resulting in at least 10 deaths and 11 injuries in the early hours of Friday, according to local authorities.

The hotel, a three-story building providing affordable single-room accommodations, had a municipal contract to house the homeless. The Rio Grande do Sul state fire brigade reported that the hotel didn’t possess the necessary licenses and was without a fire emergency plan.

Marcelo Wagner Schelech, a 56-year-old survivor, told local media how he managed to escape through smoke and encroaching flames from his room around 2 a.m. “I only had time to put on my flip-flops and run. My sister, who lived on the third floor, ended up being burned to death,” he was quoted by daily newspaper Zero Hora.

This hotel, known as Garoa Floresta, is part of the Garoa group, which operates 22 other smaller hotels in Porto Alegre. A fire in one of these establishments in 2022 resulted in one death and 11 injuries.

Porto Alegre’s Mayor SebastiĆ£o Melo informed at a press briefing that his administration had a contract with the company since 2020 to use 400 of its rooms as homeless shelters. This contract will now face scrutiny, and all the 22 hotels operated by Garoa, all social housing providers, will undergo inspection. In the hotel where fire struck, the city hall contracted 16 rooms.

Of those saved from the fire, eight were hospitalized, with two still in a serious condition, not life-threatening according to local officials. The fire’s victims will now be relocated to temporary accommodation.